Cooking out on the grill happens to be one of my favorite past times. There are few things I enjoying more than the company of good friends and the deliciousness of some grilled food. As a matter of fact, I like it so much that, along with some of the Hybrid crew, we have made grilling out a weekly occurrence. So, every Thursday we kick an awesome workout and follow it up by consuming massive amounts of grilled goodies.
For most everyone socializing and eating go hand and hand. For me, whether I am entertaining or heading to my buddy’s house, there is always some concern given to making the meal as healthy as it can be. That’s where grilling comes in; it is an excellent way to create some tasty food that is suitable for the most health conscience among us. In addition to providing a hefty helping of muscle building protein, sliced fruit, grilled veggies and fresh salsa make great side dishes.
Keeping your performance and weight loss goals in mind, use this as you create your own food spread that will both impress and satisfy.
If you are going to be doing burgers on the grill, choose a leaner cut or consider substituting bison or turkey for beef. Buffalo are required by law to be raised without steroids or growth hormones making them safer and more nutritious.
When choosing a cut of meat look for eye of round roast, top round steak, bottom round roast, top sirloin steak or round tip roast. These cuts are leaner than 95% lean ground beef.
If you aren’t into red meat or prefer an alternative, pick up some chicken or fish. Tuna and salmon can go right on the grill and you can pack more delicate fish like tilapia in a foil with some fresh lemon and herbs.
Top it off
If you are looking to cut calories or carbs, try an open-face burger with the bun on the bottom. Better yet, pack you burger between two grilled slices of portabella mushrooms or egg plant and get after it with a fork and knife. If that doesn’t work, use fresh or grilled romaine lettuce to wrap or sandwich your burger.
Be wary of the ingredients and calories condiments pack. Some, like ketchup can have preservative and high fructose corn syrup, while others like store bought barbeque sauce and marinates can be loaded with sugar. Opt for the low calorie, organic and or preservative free offering when possible. Otherwise, try topping your burger off with fresh vegetables, avocado or salsa.
Soak it up
Whipping up a marinade is an easy way to bring some flavor to the party. In addition to the flavor, marinades protect the meat from carcinogens created by smoke and high heat cooking. Start with an acid-based liquid, some healthy fat cooking oil and some fresh herbs. You can even get creative and come up with something like my Mojito Marinade; olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, fresh mint, sea salt and a splash of rum.
Rub it in
Like a marinade, creating a wet or dry rub is easy and less expensive than store bought alternative. A dry rub is just a combination of herbs and spices that you rub on whatever you are cooking before it hits the grill. As the name would suggest a wet rub has some liquid component, usually oil or mustard. I am a fan of using coffee and pepper as a dry rub, but you can mix and max combos to come up with something that pleases your palate.
Slice and Skewer
Pick up some grilling skewers, slice up your meat and veg of choice and toss it on the grill. MEAL DONE! If you want to get fancy with your kabobs you can marinate your meat and vegetables before cooking or add sliced fruit like pineapple to the mix. Making kabobs ahead of time is great for entertaining. You get all the work done before anyone arrives and can create meat, veg and marinade combos that everyone can enjoy.
Summer is the perfect time to hit up the farmers market for the freshest fruits and vegetables. You can’t go wrong with nutritious and low calories sides like sliced fruit, grilled vegetables and homemade salsa or guac.
Simply take your vegetable of choice, slice ’em up, add olive oil and herbs then make room on the grill. Depending on the veg, you can go straight to the grill top, create mini foil packets or use a grill basket while cooking.
For me, no cookout is complete without sliced watermelon, but feel free to go with whatever works for you. Maybe you prefer berries, fruit salad or sliced fruit that has been “marinated”; hey I am not judging. If you are feeling adventurous, try some grilled fruit. Try this, half some pears, dip them in balsamic vinegar and grill them off.
Finish off your food offerings with some homemade salsa. The store bought stuff is lame. It has a ton of unnecessary ingredients and lacks in taste. Try chopped peaches, mangos, onion, chilies and cilantro in addition to some fresh cut tomatoes. Or, if you prefer, cube some avocado and add it to some sliced tomatoes, lime juice, shallots and spices to taste.
And there you have it; these steps will ensure your next cookout delivers healthy options without sacrificing on taste.
As my dad would say; “Mangia!”
Joe is a writer, trainer and fitness entrepreneur who co-founded Hybrid Athlete LLC, Kettlebell Cardio™ and Race Day Domination. Currently building @fittinsider, a platform for founders, executives, & investors redefining fitness/wellness. Investing in health/fitness companies